ISRO’s Chandrayaan-3 Mission Takes an “Unconventional” Approach
India’s space agency, ISRO, continues to push boundaries with its Chandrayaan-3 mission. In a surprising move, the propulsion module of the Chandrayaan-3 mission, which was originally orbiting the Moon, has now been extracted and placed in Earth’s orbit. This maneuver is crucial for India’s preparation for a future sample-return mission from the Moon.
ISRO chairman S Somanath explained that this is all part of ISRO’s plan to bring back moon rocks to India in a sample-return mission. The space agency announced the achievement, stating that the Chandrayaan-3 Propulsion Module has been moved from lunar orbit to Earth’s orbit. Although it is close to home, it is still an orbiting satellite.
The Chandrayaan-3 mission has proven to be a cost-effective endeavor for ISRO, with multiple experiments carried out at a fraction of the cost of separate missions. With a budget of less than Rs 700 crore, ISRO proudly declares that all mission objectives have been successfully met.
ISRO’s focus on research and development has led to a more innovative approach. The agency encourages its teams to think outside the box and take calculated risks, akin to a nimble start-up. The recent experiments, such as the Vikram hop and the propulsion module’s return to Earth orbit, have provided essential learnings in the challenging lunar environment.
The successful extraction of the propulsion module from lunar orbit to Earth’s orbit is a significant achievement. This experiment was not initially part of the mission plan but has become an important step towards obtaining moon rocks in future Indian missions.
The Vikram lander and Pragyaan rover were conducting their tasks near the moon’s south pole before entering a 14-day lunar night. On September 3, ISRO conducted a hop experiment, lifting the lander 40 centimeters above the lunar surface before safely landing it back. This crucial learning experience utilized the remaining fuel in the lander.
ISRO emphasizes the importance of conducting actual tests in the lunar environment, rather than relying solely on computer simulations. These experiments provide the Chandrayaan team with confidence in their abilities for future sample-return missions.
The ISRO scientists executed the complex maneuver to bring the propulsion module from lunar orbit to Earth’s orbit successfully. This unique experiment ensures the module’s safe return and prevents any collision with the moon’s surface or Earth’s GEO belt.
India’s soft landing on the moon in August marked a significant milestone, and now the country is already planning its next lunar mission in collaboration with Japan. Dr. M Sankaran, Director of the UR Rao Satellite Center, believes that the logical next step for India is to undertake a sample-return mission from the moon.
ISRO’s Chandrayaan-3 mission demonstrates India’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of space exploration and their determination to become a leading player in lunar research and technology.